The gay chief of federal HIV efforts and part-time Atlantan, Kevin Fenton, will soon no longer call this city home. He’s quitting the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to return to Merry Old England, his partner and a gig heading up a piece of a new heath agency in the U.K.
Fenton (photo), director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD & TB Prevention for seven years, announced the move in a letter to CDC staff on Friday.
“There is no question that we have made great strides in fulfilling the mission of our organization with continued excellence and advances in disease-specific programming, surveillance, and research,” Fenton says in the letter. “NCHHSTP science and scientists are recognized for quality and impact, and our recommendations have changed fundamentally how we do surveillance, prevention, and control of our focus diseases and associated conditions. Over the past few years we have refined how we fund HIV prevention programs, aligning resources to the current epidemic burden, while focusing our efforts on the highest impact activities.”
Fenton leaves the CDC on Dec. 21 and will become the Health Improvement & Population Health director for Public Health England, a new national agency that opens its doors in April.
CDC Director Thomas Frieden told agency staffers that Rima Khabbaz, director of the CDC’s Office of Infectious Diseases, will fill Fenton’s position while a national search is conducted.
“Kevin will be responsible for improving health and wellbeing services and tackling health inequalities throughout England,” Friedens says in his email. “This prestigious appointment also allows Kevin to return home to be with his long-time partner, family and friends. CDC is deeply thankful to Kevin for his 8 years of committed work at NCHHSTP, especially his leadership in formulating the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and numerous domestic program innovations.”
Fenton embraced social media to push HIV prevention messages. He’s tweeted requests for people to undergo HIV tests, told them to stop being sluts on YouTube and helped launch a campaign targeting Atlanta’s HIV stigma and apathy. In June, he praised AID Atlanta’s “leadership, passion and integrity.”
On Friday, Fenton tweeted that his departure is “bittersweet news” and thanked his supporters.
Thanks for the well wishes on my new appt, will miss so many US champions for health 1.usa.gov/QMQtuB
— Dr. Kevin Fenton (@CDC_DrFenton) November 16, 2012